Stunning Satellite Maps Show Where & How Night Lights Changed Across The World


Stunning Satellite Maps Show Where & How Night Lights Changed Across The World

Stunning Satellite Maps Show Where & How Night Lights Changed Across The World
Satellite maps that show in blue the areas where the light has become brighter in between 2012 and 2016, whereas pink shows where lights have dimmed.

NASA recently revealed two satellite maps of the Earth that were taken at night. One was from 2016 and the other one was from 2012. And beside them showing the stunning beauty of our planet, and the twinkling lights we humans were able to bring in order to keep the ‘monsters’ at bay, they also bring to light another interesting thing.

Cartographer John Nelson was able to put those two maps together and pinpoint the change in light intensity that has occurred during that period of time. Known as “Lights On Lights Off,” the project paints an amazing picture of our changing world.

Known as Black Marble, these nighttime maps put forth by NASA are composites created by code that pick the clearest photographs taken by satellites and arranges them to form an entire map of Earth.


“I was swiping back and forth … and was fascinated by where things had changed,” Nelson told Betsy Mason from National Geographic. “So I thought a change-detection map would let me see that really easily, in one go.”

And in order to make the differences of light intensity found on these satellite maps, Nelson highlighted the increase in luminosity with blue, whereas the dimming or complete extinguishing of the nightlight, he coloured in pink. The places that remained consistent were left transparent.

One place that immediately stands out is India. Over the past several years, the country has become increasingly brighter. This is thanks in large part to the extensive electrification program ongoing in the country. Syria, on the other hand, has become dimmer. This, as most of us know, is because of the civil war still ongoing over there. Puerto Rico is also getting dimmer, something that is consistent with their efforts to curb light pollution.

In the US, we can see that while Georgia is getting brighter, the Carolinas are becoming dimmer. The reasons for this are harder to pinpoint, however. We should also take into consideration that these changes don’t necessarily mean that the regions have less light since it could also mean that there could be a change in the streetlights.